Let the sunshine cook your dinner — building a solar oven at Ethicurean

Photo of a solar oven, solar cooker

I recently built a solar oven out of easily obtainable materials like cardboard boxes, aluminum foil, and Elmer’s glue. I posted a story about how I built the oven and how they work over at Ethicurean. Check it out…


  1. hey marc, i just found your site because i was looking for a simple lentil soup recipe to use with my solar oven. what was your recipe like? did you cook it in a jar or the pot in this photo? i’ve was only able to try my oven twice (with a pot) before we got a cloudy/rainy streak, but as soon as we get some sun i want to try with blackened jars. split-pea soup, lentil soup, quinoia, brussel sprouts are all in the queue. šŸ™‚

  2. So far I have three basic recipes:

    1) lentils: combine lentils, diced carrot, diced onion, chopped tomato, herbs, spices, and water in the cooking pot (see below for info) then place the pot in the cooker. Let the sunshine cook it until the lentils are done. Salt to taste.

    2) Beans. A few hours before, cover the beans with cool water in a large bowl (i.e., presoak them). On the (gas/electric) stove, saute some diced onion and carrot in oil in the cooking pot until they are soft, then add some minced garlic, cook for about 30 seconds, then add the water, (presoaked) beans and herbs and/or spices. Bring the mixture to a boil, then let it boil for a minute or two. Turn off the heat put on the lid and carefully move it to the solar oven (the pot sits on a wire rack so there is no danger of damaging the oven). Let the sunshine cook it until the beans are tender. Salt to taste.

    3) Rice. Combine the rice, water and salt in the cooking pot, place the pot in the solar oven, and let the sunshine cook the rice.

    Last summer, I did some experiments with slow-roasting tomato slices that turned out pretty well (I then stored them in the freezer). Ideally, I’ll improve that process this summer somehow.

    I have two favorite cooking pots, one is a dark gray Calphalon made of anodized aluminum, the other is a brown Le Creuset made of cast iron and coated with enamel.

    One of these days I’d like to upgrade the reflector to a real mirror.

  3. Cool, thanks. So far I’ve only baked potatoes and apples. The potatoes tasted better than any I’ve ever had! I’d be interested to know if the mirror improves the efficiency at all. The solarcooking.org FAQ is unclear as to whether it will be any better.

  4. MG — I'm not positive what "second part" you are referring to, but here are some possibilities:

    * the 2nd part of the series at the Ethicurean is here.
    * I also wrote about using the oven to slow-roast tomatoes. It works reasonably well and uses almost infinitely less energy than many hours in a gas oven. I plan on using it later this summer when I get a large supply of sauce-type tomatoes (relatives of Romas).

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